In brief: Summer shootings, buggy menace and more

One of UVA's many ash trees gets innoculated against the emerald ash borer. 
Dan Addison One of UVA’s many ash trees gets innoculated against the emerald ash borer. Dan Addison

Beetles on the brain

As the invasive emerald ash tree borer creeps its way into Central Virginia, UVA groundskeepers are suiting up for battle—kind of.

First discovered in the U.S. in 2002, this beetle has been detected in most of the eastern half of the country. After it lays its eggs inside ash trees, its larvae feed on the insides of the tree and disrupt its ability to transport water and nutrients, which kills the tree.

Hundreds of ash trees make up about 70 percent of the foliage on the Lawn on UVA Grounds. To prepare for an almost certain attack, the university’s trees are inoculated every two years, and just last month, Sten Cempe and a team from Big O Tree and Lawn Service were on site to inject beetle-killing emamectin benzoate into the bases of them. The inoculations are a temporary fix, but should work until a natural predator can be found to kill the borers, according to Cempe.

You oughta know

Emerald ash borers:

  • are native to Asia
  • have no natural predators in the U.S.
  • have killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in North America
  • have caused the USDA to enforce quarantines to prevent more infected ash trees
  • could contribute to the ash tree becoming endangered like the American chestnut, American elm and hemlock

*Information from UVA Today and the Emerald Ash Borer Information Network


Several shootings

Charlottesville police are investigating four incidents of shots fired around Friendship Court and the 700 block of Sixth Street SE between July 2 and 10. A juvenile was wounded July 8. Arrested were Chaz Dylan Newville early July 10 and a juvenile for a shooting that same night, and Zayquan Thomas is still wanted.

Plus column

Virginia tallies a $132 million surplus at the end of the 2017 fiscal year.

Naming rights

Congressman Tom Garrett proposes renaming two 5th District post offices for fallen servicemen: the Palmyra PO for Navy Gunner’s Mate Dakota Rigsby, who died on the USS Fitzgerald collision June 17, and the UVA PO for Army Captain Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004. Garrett’s first bill was to name the U.S. District Court in Charlottesville for the late SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia.

“It’s shaping up to be the East Coast Berkeley.”

Jason Kessler on his August 12 Unite the Right rally in a Salting the Earth podcast

No new leads

July 14 marked the five-year anniversary of the Pherbia “Faye” Tinsley murder in which the 51-year-old left her Barracks Road home early in the morning and was found shot to death in her car on Prospect Avenue. City police are still investigating this case.

Huffstetler’s war chest

Roger Dean Huffstetler and wife Emily. Publicity photo

Democratic candidate for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District and Marine veteran Roger Dean Huffstetler raised more than $336,000 in the last financial quarter, surpassing all other non-incumbent 5th District candidates in recent history. Democrats Ben Cullop, of Albemarle County, and Leslie Cockburn, of Rappahannock County, have also joined Huffstetler, Adam Slate and Andrew Sneathern in the race.





Deadly highways

Interstate 64 and the U.S. 29/250 Bypass saw three fatalities in fewer than 24 hours, as well as a stabbing earlier in the week. A woman’s body was found in the southbound lane of U.S. 29 near the Old Ivy Road bridge around 9:30am July 15, closing the road until 1pm.  Police are seeking information, and at press time, had not released the victim’s name.

Around 6am July 16, Winston J. Smith II, 32, who worked at NBC29 and was an actor in local theater, most recently Live Arts’ production of Death of a Salesman, headed the wrong way on eastbound I-64 and crashed head-on into Troutville resident Bethany M. Franklin, 30, a Moneta firefighter. Both died at the scene at the Ivy exit at mile marker 114, and the driver of a third vehicle—a Ford F-150—was taken to UVA Medical Center with minor injuries. Smith’s green Isuzu pickup was reported earlier driving recklessly on westbound I-64, and then in an emergency crossover, according to Virginia State Police.

And on July 11, a 46-year-old Fishersville woman was found critically wounded from stab wounds to her neck and abdomen on I-64 near mile marker 101 on Afton Mountain. Her ex-boyfriend, Rodney D. Burnett, 46, of Indiana, was arrested in her car and charged with malicious wounding.

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